Reviews

The Presence of Julius Eastman, in full

While I was away a new issue of Tempo came out, which includes my review of last December's London Contemporary Music Festival. This is a

Julius Eastman

 

Pianos (I): Parkinson Dalibert Pateras

For reasons economical as much as ideological the piano has become the one-man* laboratory for the composer as autonomous author or auteur using the instrument

Anthony Pateras Melaine Dalibert Tim Parkinson

 

Christoph Schiller & Morgan Evans-Weiler: spinet and violin

It describes itself as "an extended improvisation" but I don't believe it. A few years back Another Timbre put out a solo album by Christoph

Christoph Schiller Morgan Evans-Weiler

 

Late Feldman live and on record

Last September Mark Knoop, Aisha Orazbayeva, Bridget Carey and Anton Lukoszevieze played Morton Feldman's last piece, Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello at Cafe Oto. I've written

 

John Cage's 'Concert For Piano and Orchestra'

The programme notes for the St John At Hackney gig last Thursday admitted that Cage's Concert For Piano and Orchestra is a work more often

Christian Wolff John Cage

 

A Post-Cage World: Antoine Beuger's Ockeghem Octets

In my mind I've worked up Antoine Beuger as my personal nemesis. Never met him, but his music has always aroused a vehement antipathy, sufficient

Antoine Beuger

 

Convulsive Amnesia and Disruptive Technology

How does a composer respond to the modern world? Do you try to shut it out as a distraction and risk irrelevance? Or do you

Anthony Pateras

 

I bought 10 Edition Wandelweiser CDs for 50 Euros and now I'm posting tweet-length reviews after drinking beer in the sun.

Tim Parkinson: cello piece A study in self-knowledge triumphing over self-expression, allowing the personal to speak for the universal. Eva-Maria Houben: von da nach da

Wandelweiser

 

The Canadian Composers Series on Another Timbre: Sabat, Ceccarelli and live

Three nights last week at Cafe Oto to hear concerts dedicated to The Canadian Composers Series on Another Timbre. As always, you get new perspectives

Chiyoko Szlavnics Isaiah Ceccarelli Linda Catlin Smith Marc Sabat Martin Arnold

 

The Canadian Composers Series on Another Timbre: Smith, Arnold, Szlavincs

In its own quiet way, this is one of the major events I've been looking forward to in 2017. Over the past year or so

Chiyoko Szlavnics Linda Catlin Smith Martin Arnold

 

Format Trouble: Line Gate v Claudio Parodi

Spent the last month making music, listening to it, making notes but not wanting to expand on them until now. All the music in my

Claudio Parodi Line Gate

 

One of those wonderful moments where nobody knows what's going on

Went to the latest Kammer Klang gig a couple of weeks ago. It was recorded by the BBC and is on their website for the

Cassandra Miller

 

New music that stays new

I need to talk about some recent releases on Simon Reynell's Another Timbre label because I've got a small stack of them here and still

Christian Wolff Dante Boon Dirar Kalash Giuliano d’Angiolini John Lely John Tilbury Jürg Frey

 

The Presence of Julius Eastman

For four years now, the London Contemporary Music Festival have put together the most exciting new music events in town. After last year's eclectic extravaganza,

Arthur Russell Frederic Rzewski Julius Eastman

 

More from the guitar: Sarah Hennies, d'incise, Cristián Alvear, Clara de Asís

Earlier in the year I raved about Cristián Alvear's album of Jürg Frey’s music for guitar. I've now been sent two new recordings by Alvear,

d'incise Sarah Hennies

 

Morphogenesis - Immediata

You sometimes get the feeling that musicians these days are frightened of complexity. It seems to go back to the 1990s, when Pärt and Górecki

 

Kammer Klang 2016-17: A Curmudgeon Writes

The new season of Kammer Klang kicked off this week at Cafe Oto. It's about the most innovative and interesting new music programme going around

 

Serious Listening Weekend

Are you playing an instrument or playing music? I’m old-fashioned enough to be leery of improvisation. Spent the weekend listening to new(ish) CDs of music

Adam Asnan Angharad Davies Anne-F Jacques Anthony Pateras Erkki Veltheim Gaudenz Badrutt Ilia Belorukov Illogical Harmonies Johnny Chang Jonas Kocher Keith Rowe Kurt Liedwart Louie Rice Mike Majkowski Tim Olive Tisha Mukarji Vasco Alves

 

Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello at Cafe Oto

You wish Morton Feldman's life hadn't ended so soon; not least because his work was still revealing unknown territory. For all that his late works

morton feldman

 

Eva-Maria Houben at Cafe Oto

A warm Tuesday night in London and Eva-Maria Houben is playing piano at Cafe Oto. She's chosen to play three short sets, so people can

Eva-Maria Houben

 

Violin+1: Bryn Harrison and Linda Catlin Smith

First, I have to say that I had Linda Catlin Smith all wrong. A couple of months ago Another Timbre released four CDs under the

Bryn Harrison Linda Catlin Smith

 

Music versus material (3): Arturas Bumšteinas

When is a field recording a composition? I suspect many musicians would like to keep this line as vague as possible, without considering how some

Arturas Bumšteinas

 

Music versus material (2): Lucio Capece

When is a field recording no longer a field recording? I originally started to phrase this question "where is the line between field recording and..."

Lucio Capece

 

Music versus material (1): Claudio Parodi

I don't trust field recordings. I've probably said this before, but I mean a certain type of field recordings: the ones with a pretence to

Claudio Parodi

 

Who is neither in nor out

If there's a Renaissance this century it will come from rediscovering what happened last century. So far it feels like a lot of modern musical

Claudio Parodi Harry Partch

 

Donnerstag aus Licht in Basel

As with Cage, so with Stockhausen: composers who upset the musical establishment are told their music will not survive them. On Sunday I was at

Karlheinz Stockhausen

 

Composing or improvising, or… (II)

For the last fifty-odd years there's been a grey area between what is composed and what is improvised. At home, I've been listening to some

John Lely Jürg Frey Marek Poliks Sarah Hughes

 

Composing or improvising, or... (I)

Each composition is built upon a computer program governing interaction between performers and the system, and creates situations rather than set pieces. The performers have

David Behrman Marginal Consort Ora Clementi

 

Jürg Frey: guitarist, alone

Decades of heavily amplified popular music have ingrained the idea of the guitar as a loud, swaggering vehicle of individualism at its most potent -

Jürg Frey

 

Postscript to The Curse of Taste: Christian Wolff

There was another typically eclectic Kammer Klang night a couple of weeks back (the music of Christian Wolff, Vinko Globokar and... Chicks on Speed?). A

Christian Wolff

 

The Curse of Taste: Marchetti, Pisaro

From the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries Western aesthetics were founded upon a fraught consensus of taste. The romantic understanding of art that was naturalistic

Michael Pisaro Walter Marchetti

 

Stefan Thut, un/even and one. Songs, 1 & 2.

I'm getting Wandelweiser from all over. First Sheffield, then Bilbao and now St Petersburg. Intonema sent me a nice little package and it's taken me

Rishin Singh Songs Stefan Thut

 

Kammer Klang: John Wall and Michael Finnissy

Managed to make it to the latest Kammer Klang gig at Cafe Oto (it's available in streaming audio for the next few weeks). For years

John Wall Michael Finnissy

 

Apartment House at Wigmore Hall

You get a funny crowd at Wigmore Hall on a Saturday night. Some punters come just because it's am awfully nice venue and they fancy

Egidija Medekšaitė Henning Christiansen John White Luiz Henrique Yudo Martin Arnold

 

Bryan Eubanks: The Bornholmer Suite

Looking very Goth, something else I received in the swag from Nueni Records. I've only heard a couple of pieces by Bryan Eubanks before, both

Bryan Eubanks

 

Manfred Werder: 2015/3

More text scores and more original Wandelweiser, from Manfred Werder. For the past ten years Werder has been composing music in which the score consists

Manfred Werder Regler

 

Jürg Frey: Circles and Landscapes

A few months ago I noticed the change in Jürg Frey's music in recent years, when discussing two contrasting but very fine albums of his

Jürg Frey

 

Joseph Kudirka: Beauty and Industry

Other than hearing a performance of his piece wyoming snow on the radio last year, I really knew nothing about Joseph Kudirka before receiving this

Joseph Kudirka

 

Unfinished Business: Ezra Pound's Music

Been listening a lot to two new CDs on Another Timbre: a new album of Jürg Frey's piano music played by Philip Thomas, and a

Ezra Pound

 

LCMF 2015, first three days real quick

I've spent the last three nights at the London Contemporary Music Festival and plan to spend the next four there, too. No time to put

 

Three Days in Huddersfield (Part Two of Two)

Part One is here. If you want a better of what was actually happening at the HCMF this year, go over to 5:4 for detailed

 

Three Days in Huddersfield (Part One of Two)

First night in Huddersfield for the HCMF I went to the first UK performance of La Monte Young's The Melodic Version (1984) of The Second

 

Michael Vincent Waller: The South Shore

I got a shock when I first put on this album. It was kindly sent to me by the composer. I opened the package to

Michael Vincent Waller

 

Apartment House at 20

The question is not whether or not what Cage is doing is art. I'm convinced that it will be art without even hearing the piece,

 

Jürg Frey: Grizzana and other pieces 2009-2014

I won't search for it but a few years ago I made the passing remark that if Morton Feldman's music can be compared to Rothko

Jürg Frey

 

James Saunders - assigned #15

This is a weirdly evocative piece. I wrote about James Saunders's music last year, having heard a CD and attended a live concert of his

James Saunders

 

The Great Learning at Union Chapel, 2015

One of my formative experiences as a youth was hearing a few minutes' excerpt from that old LP of Paragraph 7 from Cornelius Cardew's The

Cornelius Cardew

 

Time With People: warm-blooded reductionism

"Madame, you are an eloquent and warm-blooded woman. I am a cold-blooded reductionist. Let us leave it at that." -- J. V. Cunningham Tim Parkinson

Tim Parkinson

 

Despairs, Would Fall

I've been listening to these two CDs from Another Timbre as a sort of diptych. Each one is a single work for ensemble, 45 to

Magnus Granberg Skogen

 

Olson III: everything was mapped out in 1967

"It sounds like the music of the future," he said as he put the CD on. He was right. It was the Organ of Corti

Terry Riley

 

Frank Denyer's Whispers

If only for having the advantage of hindsight, it may be easier to rediscover the past than to discover the present. I got sent some

Frank Denyer

 

George Maciunas, Musical Scoring Systems

I was always annoyed by the insincerity of the art world; I mean the way it pays lip service to stuff it says is important

George Maciunas Reviews

 

Thanksgiving: Thomas Buckner sings Robert Ashley

I didn't write about the last time Robert Ashley was in town. Sometimes you have an experience that gives you too much to think about,

Robert Ashley Thomas Buckner

 

The technique. Pateras, Toral, Frey.

Not much to report lately except for two gigs, both at Cafe Oto, about one week apart. First night: two solo sets, by Rafael Toral

Anthony Pateras John Lely Jürg Frey Rafael Toral

 

Is This Wandelweiser? West Coast Soundings

I think I've ragged on Wandelweiser a few times recently, finding fault with its apparent sense conformity and complacency. It's not completely true, of course,

Casey Anderson Catherine Lamb Chris Kallmyer James Tenney Liam Mooney Mark So Michael Pisaro

 

Old-Fashioned Modernism: An Index of Metals

Just reading about what Fausto Romitelli hoped to achieve with his final work, the "video opera" An Index of Metals, is enough to cause apprehension.

Fausto Romitelli

 

Konzert Minimal play Antoine Beuger and Catherine Lamb

I've been getting to know Catherine Lamb's music. Listening to the CD of her trio three bodies (moving) from Another Timbre has been one of

Antoine Beuger Catherine Lamb

 

Laurence Crane, live and on record

Laurence Crane

 

Non-systems (1)

On Saturday I got to see and hear the Scratch Orchestra play selections from Nature Study Notes. I saw these guys performing Cage's Song Books

Scratch Orchestra

 

An Evening with Christian Wolff

Last Monday, on the way back from the Tectonics festival in Glasgow, Christian Wolff gave a talk in London about his music. After his talk,

Christian Wolff

 

After "Vessels"

Last night I got to see Philip Thomas play Bryn Harrison's Vessels live, at Cafe Oto. As implied last time, I hadn't re-listened to the

Bryn Harrison

 

Bryn Harrison's "Vessels"

I've been working my way through that bundle of CDs from Another Timbre and so far the highlight has been the recording of Vessels for

Bryn Harrison

 

James Saunders, live and on record

In my last post a month ago(!) I was navel-gazing over the musical conversation going on in London. It's occurred to me that I've been

James Saunders

 

in vain and outside of taste

I had the good fortune to hear Gorecki's 3rd Symphony live in concert a few months before the famous recording of it was released and

Georg Friedrich Haas

 

July Mountain in Clapton

Pretty special night on Saturday, at the Round Chapel in Clapton. Tim Parkinson and a host of other muscian/composers including folks from Sonic Arts Research

Makiko Nishikaze Michael Pisaro

 

Abundance versus Excess: the Proms, part 2 and Stockhausen

I just remembered I never got around to talking about seeing Stockhausen's Mittwoch aus Licht in Birmingham last year. That needs to change soon. What

Karlheinz Stockhausen

 

Listening to Some Recent Silences

Like John Cage, I'm drawn to art with either too much or not enough in it. This means that I was compelled to attend the

Ben Isaacs Charlie Sdraulig György Kurtág Mathias Spahlinger Michael Pisaro

 

Working backwards through summer: the Proms, part 1

I was excessively busy with boring workaday stuff this summer, but I did get to see a few shows besides the LCMF. This year's Proms

Helmut Lachenmann

 

Authenticity is Overrated

"Cubism must have developed when the artist considered how much of his sketch must be finished. Finishing involves a stupidity of perception." - Guy Davenport,

Mauricio Kagel

 

Evidently I will freeze my arse off for Philip Guston

I spent Saturday afternoon in an empty art gallery in Camden listening to a live performance of Morton Feldman's For Philip Guston. In a high-ceilinged

morton feldman

 

Morton Feldman's early piano music at Cafe Oto

I've complained about the piano at Cafe Oto before. Just about everybody has, particularly John Tilbury, who refused to come back until it was replaced.

morton feldman

 

Golden Fur played Morton Feldman's "Patterns In A Chromatic Field" at Cafe Oto.

All the elements were in place for a disaster. Cafe Oto can be hot and stuffy in the best circumstances but after several intense summer

morton feldman